Monday, August 6, 2012

Teen Camp

This past week was spent chaperoning 80 teens at 4-H Teen Camp in Alpine Wyoming. It was tons of fun, but also really tiring! I certainly got to learn a lot about teens these days from listening to many conversations going on in my car :) For example I learned that 7 Minutes in Heaven is a kindergarten game that the teens were far too old for (what?!? I'm not even sure how they got started on that convo). But one thing I really noticed was how conversations and teens were changed over the course of the week and as they made friends-it was great to see them all include each other and make new friends. I especially loved seeing a kid come to camp that I had recruited to my mentoring program when I first started working here almost 4 years ago. I had seen him around recently(they graduate from my program at 14 years old and he is now 15) and he was hanging out with a pretty rough crowd-he really got along well with the other teens though and is planning on coming to the next 4-H activities so I'm really excited about his new friends! I also heard him talk about how he still spoke with his mentor I had matched him with and how his mentor was helping him think about the future-going on a mission, college, careers-music to my ears :). Stories like that really motivate me to work hard at keeping this program around!

 Here are some pics of the week-activities included rock climbing, river rafting, shooting, archery, Bar J Wranglers dinner and show, Yellowstone, canoeing, and more!
 I may have been overly prepared for this trip-I had the largest suitcase of everyone, but I brought everything I thought we would need-and it all came in handy :)
 We had dance lessons the first night-we amazingly had the same number of girls and guys so it worked out awesome!
 We discovered I close my eyes when I shoot arrows....not really recommended.
 Rock climbing on the Tetons was awesome and scary!
 Some falls we hiked to at Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons.
 Myself and some of the other leaders.
 Bar J Wranglers is a really popular dinner and show that involves these cowboys telling jokes and singing cowboy songs-it's awesome and every teen loved it! They are open 7 days a week in the summer and are sold out every single night-pretty cool.
 My sweet county van I drove all week-the kids wrote "We love you Emily" and "Emily is the" on the back-haha.
 The group that rode with me in my car when we went to Yellowstone at Upper Falls.
 We started getting more creative with our pictures.
 The kids were getting restless waiting for Old Faithful to erupt (which was so cool to see) so I made them plank while I took pictures-it was fantastic :)
 My self, the other leader from Utah County, and some of the kids we brought...who knows where the rest are at this point haha.
 I along with a couple other leaders, convinced a bunch of teens that cabin 13 was haunted (which may or may not be true after talking with the camp directer and being called in the middle of the night last year multiple times from the campers in there)-and we got them to try to stay there one night while we had other leaders creating noises and such-it was great! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about dreams lately. Am I who I want to be. Did I follow my dreams. What am I missing out on. I feel like some dreams have changed, some have been pushed back, and some are a reality. I still have dreams to continue teaching dance, to play the piano, and to kayak/hike/bike regularly, but for now I'm focusing on one dream of helping others.

I distinctly remember saying in an interview for my job that this job would be like a dream come true. It certainly has been, though at times I feel completely inadequate to be in charge of an entire program who's mission and goals are to change lives. It's been especially tough this past while as my program has lost funding, and I have lost 7 staff.....out of 8. Yeah, it was rough saying goodbye. I felt guilty that the funding was pulled while I am in charge, that these kids were losing their site coordinators with whom they got to see weekly....and that the fate of the program seems to be in my hands. At least I can say that we have tried everything, I wrote grants-to everywhere; foundations, federal grants, you name it. We sought after private donors, and even threw an amazing benefit concert. But it all fell short, and we didn't get the funding we needed. I did get some, in the form of two grants that will sustain myself, one staff member, and the program for another 6 months, and we are waiting back to hear on a very large federal grant, and a smaller grant--and I'm still writing away for other grants. It's so crazy that it's so difficult to get funding especially because our program was replicated in over 30 states over the past year!!! At least this great program is reaching a lot more kids now in all different areas.

Today as I was working with a co-worker, she was talking about how I had the greatest job in the world, how we got to see lives change right before us.....we see shy young kids turn into confident teenagers, we see friendships made, families enjoying time together. It reminded me why I push forward when it would be easier to walk away and just find a steady job. But like I always tell Robert, I don't work for the income, but for the outcome. When I go to activities and see kids and their mentors, laughing, smiling, and learning together-- that is what keeps me fighting for this program. I see the purpose, the need, and the value. At my last staff meeting with all my staff, one of them showed us this video she made-to say the program lost good people would be an understatement. But don't worry-I'm going to make sure my program keeps going strong and gets its site coordinators back!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Benefit Concert

My benefit concert has finally come and gone. It was an amazing show, everything went really smoothly-we just didn't have the numbers that we were hoping for! While I'm a little heartbroken we didn't make as much as we were hoping-we still did raise over $2,000 and I was happy that we did it, got the word out, and that it all went so well. One thing that really stood out was all the hard work that people put into this-from staff, volunteers, families, and friends-it was so great to see and really gave me a renewed sense that this program is so worth the effort!! Seeing all of this support though does make me even more depressed that I'm losing basically all my staff because our funding was cut (we were able to get a little bit to keep me around for a bit longer). But i'm confident with some more hard work that I can get funding again and hire back on staff!
 Lots of fliers
 We had a newspaper article, an ad on KSL TV, and were featured on many websites and blogs!
 Setting up
 Our host Josh from BYU's Humor You and Madison
 Kings Again
 People Water stopped by to donate some water
 May Day

So excited that Lanae, Jordan, and Harper came to support me!! I also had some other friends come too-it was so great to have everyone there.

Reuniting with Truman

Our mentors and kids loved to dance!


The Whits (wow Amy's voice was amazing!! Robert became an instant fan after the concert)

All the bands did fantastic, I really enjoyed getting to hang out with everyone (and my husband who was there to support me and help out). We also had concessions, a silent auction, and a carnival full of a bounce house, life size angry birds, life size jenga, life size hungry hippos, tattoos, and a balloon man!! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My journey to being healthy

So over the past few years I have become more aware of what I eat-I credit this to my extensive time watching the food network and my new found love for cooking. Recently I have been researching out food-and I have been surprised at what I've found. It all began when I decided that it was time to get in shape and lose some weight I had gained during my last stressful year of college (21 credits and 35 hrs working per week) and since getting my full time position where I sit most all day and am tempted to grab lunch at the local places. Even though I thought I was making healthy choices, I have found that even grabbing subway or a salad isn't the best if you are eating too much of it and depending what is on it! I first decided that I should not be drinking so much diet soda-I usually had 1 per day, but often had more on the weekends and when I was out to eat. 
I began doing research and found that diet soda is much worse than regular soda (neither are good of course) and that it even caused most people to gain more weight when they drank it more(I read one research study that said that people were 20 % more likely to be obese for each diet soda they drank per day (20% for 1 40% for 2, etc!). This research led me to reading about the effects and our overcompensation of white sugar, which lead to the high amount of msg, food dyes, and horrible food additives that are in most all processed foods. I have found this journey(I say journey because it feels like I've been researching thins forever when it's only been a month or two-but I've read a lot!) to be overwhelming at times but have to keep reminding myself of the word of wisdom (all things in moderation) and also that I need to take baby steps. 
So far my baby steps have included eliminating diet soda (I occasionally <1 time per week will have a regular soda and am trying to cut it out completely), trying to buy only real foods (non-processed), and cutting down our eating out even more. My favorite blogs in my journey to being healthy are The Food Babe100 Days of Real Food, and Thank Your Body. I like the variety of ideas that these three give me and while I don't do everything they suggest, I definitely already see a difference in how I feel with my little switches. 
One big thing for me was that it was always hard for me to get up in the morning-I could sleep forever if I didn't force myself to get up, and I felt like I needed caffeine to get me through the day. Now if I have a soda or eat junk-I feel groggy and sleepy the next day like I used to always feel. When I eat healthy real food and no caffeine I have way more energy and feel much better! Wow this is long, but I just want to document this so I can remember these things I've learned.
 Healthy homemade food is so good-I don't crave fast food ever now!
My newest find-"candy" sun-dried organic figs with walnuts-a sweet treat that fills my cravings for sugar

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Secretary's Day

So work has been crazy busy (more on this later) so I knew I wanted to do something fun for all our fabulous secretaries in my office. I decided to make this lemon poppy seed bread and paired it with a stress reducing face mask and a cute card(made by my co-worker Autumn). It was very inexpensive and all the ladies seemed to love it! I also asked all of my staff to send emails sayings thanks or all their hard work and they totally did because they are amazing! One of our secretaries said that they had never had so many people send her notes and thank her in all her time her (15 years I believe!). They certainly deserved it (and much more)! I have definitely realized over the year that little things can really make a difference in brightening a person's day, whether it is a sweet bread, opening a door for someone whose hands are full, letting someone know how grateful you are for them, or even just saying hi.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Weekend review

Robert and I have been particularly busy with work this year, which is great as far as our work and careers go....but it makes it a bit harder to spend time together doing anythings besides eating dinner, watching movies, and sleeping since after a busy week that seems to be the only things we want to do! Well this weekend we decided to get out and do some things and this is what we came up with:
We ate dinner at Costa Vida at the Gateway with Doug, Jamie, Jack, Justin, & Chelsea

Then went and watched the Jazz vs Nuggets basketball game-it was a great night!

The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning, working (Robert had to work on Saturday), going to eat at The Olive Garden with our friends Justin and Michelle, and then off to watch the Hunger Games with them. I must say, I read the Hunger Games a long time ago and was thrilled when they announced the movies-they sure didn't disappoint with this one! Now I can't wait for the others. At the movies there was a preview for The Host which is coming out next year! The Host was written by Stephenie Meyer and was a fantastic book that I read a few years ago and that I would highly recommend. I had no idea they were making it into a movie-but I'm glad they did.

What we've been up to

We sure have been busy the last few months!

Robert and I babysat sweet Samantha! She loves watching basketball with Robert-even when their teams are losing.

I got to go to Arizona with Ryan and Eden for Samantha's baby blessing
Robert and I both got sick
Watched this cutie pie again (it's one of our favorite things to do!)
Chaperoned and put on a Junior Teen Retreat for work (in other words I didn't sleep that weekend)
Don't let this fool you-this was probably the only sitting they did (they made videos and we stayed at a hotel-they all had a blast and made some killer videos!)
I attended a work conference in Albuquerque, NM and got to go to the Temple there with girls from work
I had a work conference in Logan
Went tubing at Soldier's Hollow for a work activity-we have two activities per month which makes for a lot of fun times!
(Yes I do work a lot...why do you ask?)

Robert and I ate this after a particularly long week...we did share with others a little
I may have accidentely ran into another car causing this damage
We celebrated Eden's birthday (I made her some no-bake cheesecake, her favorite!)
I stopped drinking this in an effort to cut out processed and non-healthy foods-and it was surprisingly easy to drop
and I saw this and many other beautiful sunsets!